Dr. Rajapakse Nishadi

Dr. Rajapakse Nishadi

Program Director

National Institutes of Health
6707 Democracy Blvd, Suite 800, Bethesda, United States of America, 20892

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Dr. Rajapakse is a program director at the National Institutes of Health and directs a research portfolio of health disparities initiatives that includes clinical research, global health and comparative effectiveness research. She represents NIMHD in trans-NIH and trans-federal collaborative efforts on health disparities research and clinical research. Dr. Rajapakse received her PhD in Molecular Medicine & Translational Sciences from Wake Forest University in 2004. Her graduate research focused on ischemia reperfusion brain injury in the adult and hypoxia-ischemia in the newborn. She also examined novel drug therapies targeting mitochondria in vivo and in vitro models of stroke. She completed her postodoctoral fellowship in genetic epidemiology at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). For the past 4 years, as a Principal or Co-principal investigator, she has conducted several case-control studies examining genotype-phenotype associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms and cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases. She also received a Master’s degree in Health Sciences (MHS) from the Duke University in 2010. Her thesis research examined genetic variation of Zinc Finger Protein 36 and susceptibility to Sepsis. She has published more than 25 peer-reviewed articles in biomedical journals and served as a guest editor for JHCPU.

Academic positions:

Master’s Candidate, Clinical Research Training Program, Duke University, Durham NC August 2006-Present • Develop grant proposals and Letter of Intent (LOI) document for Phase III clinical trial (stroke) • Work on physicians/scientists teams to analyze clinical research data • Collaborated with physicians/scientist teams in developing research proposals in cancer genetics/epigenetics, cancer biomarker discovery Intramural Research Training Award Fellow, Laboratory of Signal Transduction, NIEHS, RTP, NC May 2004-June 2005, 40 hours/week • Evaluated the protective roles of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3?)-inhibitors in a model of cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury (Isolated rat heart model) • Investigated the role of GSK-3? and it’s pathways in isolated rat heart mitochondria and cardiomyocytes using echocardiographic and hemodynamic/cardiac function measurements, immunoprecipitation, flow cytometry, and confocal microscopy Doctoral Candidate, Molecular Medicine Program, Division of infectious disease, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, August 1999-May 2004 • Developed a neonatal brain injury model in the laboratory and established expertise in several animal models of stroke • Discovered a novel method to isolate mitochondria from neonatal rat brain and conducted molecular toxicology studies • Examined several pharmacological approaches that may protect the brain against stroke, including mitochondrial ATP-sensitive potassium channel opener-diazoxide and SOD mimetic-M40401 in rat stroke models • Studied the mechanisms of action of these drugs in in-vitro models of anoxia (oxygen glucose deprivation and hydrogen peroxide toxicity) in mammalian cell culture systems including primary cultured neurons, glia, microglia and astrocytes • Conducted collaborative research in signaling pathways, systems biology, in-vitro and in-vivo systems • Trained and supervised laboratory technicians, graduate students and physicians rotating through the laboratory Graduate Student, Baptist Hospital, Winston-Salem, NC May 2001-August 2001 • Participated in clinical rotations in Cardiology, Neonatology, Pediatrics, ICU, Medical Genetics, Internal Medicine (HIV clinic), and Pediatric cardiac catheterization unit • Researched and presented seminars on the molecular basis of several human diseases including stroke and asthma

Research interests:

Health Disparities, Clinical Research, Brain Research, Genetic Epidemiology, Personalized Medicine

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